The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar and its enabling 2016 law after a marathon 38-day hearing that spanned four months.
A five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.K. Sikri, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Ashok Bhushan heard the argument of all the parties before reserving its verdict.
A battery of lawyers including Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, who represented the Centre, and senior advocates Kapil Sibal, P. Chidambaram, Rakesh Dwivedi, Shyam Divan and Arvind Datar appeared for various parties.
The petitions are directed at the constitutional validity of the Aadhaar Act, 2016; the Aadhaar project from 2009 to 2016; parts of the project which are not covered by the Act; authorities’ attempts to make Aadhaar compulsory when not defined by the law; the government’s push to link Aadhaar numbers with SIM cards, bank accounts and PANs; and the move to make Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits and subsidies.
On March 13, the Supreme Court indefinitely extended the deadline for linking Aadhaar with mobile phones, tatkal passports and for opening bank accounts till it pronounces its final verdict on the validity of the Aadhaar scheme. The petitioners challenging Aadhaar argue that the scheme is a stark violation of citizen’s fundamental right to privacy.